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FOCUS: Michael Cohen, Lanny Davis and the Russian Mafia
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=49013"><span class="small">Seth Hettena, Rolling Stone</span></a>   
Thursday, 30 August 2018 11:21

Hettena writes: "Something most people don't know about Michael Cohen's lawyer, Lanny Davis, is that he's also currently representing a Ukrainian oligarch whose name is often linked to one of the most powerful mobsters in the world."

Michael Cohen's Lawyer Larry Davis. (photo: Martin Divisek/Bloomberg)
Michael Cohen's Lawyer Larry Davis. (photo: Martin Divisek/Bloomberg)

Michael Cohen, Lanny Davis and the Russian Mafia

By Seth Hettena, Rolling Stone

30 August 18

President Trump’s former fixer may not be the most notorious client of power lawyer Lanny Davis at this moment

omething most people don’t know about Michael Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, is that he’s also currently representing a Ukrainian oligarch whose name is often linked to one of the most powerful mobsters in the world.

For the past four years, Davis — a 72-year-old former special counsel to former President Bill Clinton — has served as a registered foreign agent for Dmitry Firtash, who has been fighting to avoid extradition to Chicago, where he faces charges of international racketeering and money laundering. In registering with the Justice Department as Firtash’s foreign agent, Davis said his firm was being paid $80,000 a month — or about a million dollars a year — by a man described by prosecutors as an “upper-echelon” associate of Russian organized crime. The case against Firtash “seeks to protect this country, its commerce and its citizens from the corrupting influence and withering effects of international organized crime,” prosecutors wrote last year.

Firtash has acknowledged ties to Semion Mogilevich, although the exact nature of their relationship is unknown outside of a classified space. A chain-smoking, hulking Ukrainian-born gangster, Mogilevich appeared on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list during Robert Mueller’s tenure as the bureau’s director. A 1996 FBI report on Mogilevich’s organization said he was involved in prostitution, weapons trafficking, smuggling of nuclear materials, drug trafficking and money laundering. Mogilevich was indicted on racketeering charges in Pennsylvania in 2002 for his role in a publicly-traded magnet company later exposed as a money-laundering front. Several sources, including Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB officer turned whistleblower who was murdered in London, said that Mogilevich had a relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Mogilevich lives in Moscow, where some suspect he’s being protected by Russian intelligence.

“Mr. Firtash has denied any business or personal involvement with organized crime, in Russia or elsewhere,” Davis tells Rolling Stone. “Moreover, reports of such involvement have relied on innuendo and words such as ‘linked to’ or ‘associated with,’ not facts, or false allegations in a lawsuit filed many years ago in New York City that was dismissed on jurisdictional grounds and never re-filed.”

Davis is not exactly advertising the fact that he represents Firtash. Although Davis lists his past controversial clients in Africa and Honduras on his website, Firtash’s name is noticeably absent. Davis hardly ever talks about Firtash, at least not on the record, even though Justice Department filings make it clear that he and his colleagues at Davis, Goldberg & Galper frequently contact D.C. journalists about Firtash to pitch stories, issue statements and press releases, or to respond to questions.

Likewise, Firtash wasn’t mentioned in the flurry of coverage that Davis received after Cohen pleaded guilty last week to eight criminal charges, including campaign finance violations. In recent pieces, The Washington Post called Davis the “ultimate Clinton loyalist;” Esquire called him the “da Vinci of spin.” Davis referred to himself a “renowned legal crisis management expert,” but another way to describe his lucrative line of work is representing bad guys and telling us how good they are, something he’s been doing quite effectively with Cohen, Trump’s former fixer. In 2010, Davis was paid a million dollars a year to represent the brutally repressive dictatorship of oil-soaked Equatorial Guinea, and $100,000 a month to represent Ivory Coast, then on the brink of a civil war. “I took on a couple bad-guy countries that I thought I could make into good-guy countries,” Davis told the Post.

Why does this matter for Cohen? For starters, optics.

Davis is sensitive to how his “bad-guy” clients look, something he acknowledged to his friend Hillary Clinton in 2010 in what the Weekly Standard called “D.C.’s most cringe-inducing document ever.” Davis asked Clinton, his old Yale Law School classmate, to speak to a reporter on his behalf and then changed his mind the following morning when he realized her name would appear in the same piece with his clients at the time:

As soon as I wrote last email, I reverted to my old role as your crisis manager and worrier about you, read the word “optics” I suddenly felt – oops

I am registered under FARA [the Foreign Agents Registration Act] for one or more foreign governments or businesses. I don’t think it would look right. I want to avoid any even slight chance of misperception.

So let’s not chance it.

How can I describe what a great friend you are….?

I can’t.

Beyond mere optics, credibility matters, too. “My credibility is the only thing I have,” Davis once told the New York Times in an article that described him as a “front man for the dark side.” It didn’t help when Davis backtracked on his claims that Cohen had information that suggested Trump was aware of Russia’s efforts to undermine Hillary Clinton’s campaign. And emails released by the U.S. State Department show that during Davis’ days as a representative of Equatorial Guinea and Ivory Coast, his credibility was in short supply when he needed it most. Told that Davis had written a letter resigning as a representative of Ivory Coast, Phillip Carter, the U.S. ambassador to the West African nation, wrote in an email “I wonder if this is true…”

Davis’ client roster puts him in the same league as Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman who also made a living representing dictators and Ukrainian oligarchs. Perhaps it’s not a surprise that Manafort, who was convicted last week on eight counts, also did business with Firtash. In 2008, while Manafort was working in Ukraine for the pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych, Firtash’s company Group DF agreed to commit $112 million to Manafort’s vision for “Bulgari Tower,” a $1.5 billion skyscraper project in midtown Manhattan on the corner of Park Avenue and 56th Street, said to be one of the most valuable development sites in North America. The tower deal later collapsed, but not before Firtash wired in a $25 million deposit from Raiffeisen Zentralbank Österreich AG, an Austrian bank that U.S. officials believed served as a Mogilevich front. Andrey Kozlov, a deputy chairman of the Russian central bank, was gunned down in 2006 after he blew the whistle on large amounts of rubles that were being laundered through Raiffeisen. (Raiffeisen also provided a $310 million construction loan to finance Trump’s tower in Toronto.) In a federal lawsuit filed in New York, Yulia Tymoshenko, a former prime minister of Ukraine, claimed that Firtash was laundering proceeds from sales of natural gas through Manhattan real estate.

Firtash, a former tomato grower and truck driver, rose from obscurity to become one of Ukraine’s richest men through his deal with Gazprom, the natural gas giant controlled by the Kremlin. In 2006, Gazprom gave Firtash a monopoly on all gas trades between Russia and Ukraine. The vehicle for this was yet another a murky company, RosUkrEnergo, half-owned by Gazprom and half-owned by Firtash and a minority partner. In a short time, RosUkrEnergo earned billions — some of which, U.S. government officials suspect, ended up in Mogilevich’s pockets. Notably, Firtash’s stake in the Swiss-registered RosUkrEnergo remained a secret for two years, hidden by the same Austrian bank that was used to wire in money for Manafort’s Manhattan tower venture. Prosecutors in Chicago have moved to seize RosUkrEnergo, along with Firtash’s other corporate holdings.

Firtash himself didn’t deny that he knew Mogilevich during a 2010 meeting with the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, William Taylor. “Firtash acknowledged that he needed, and received, permission from Mogilevich when he established various  businesses, but he denied any close relationship to him,” Taylor wrote in a cable released by Wikileaks. Two of Firtash’s companies involved in the natural gas business had links — albeit indirect — to Mogilevich. (Mogilevich’s wife was a major shareholder in one company, while the other listed her as a director.) Firtash and Mogilevich also have shared the same Israeli lawyer, Zeev Gordon, to represent their business and personal interests.

Firtash’s associations with Mogilevich are what may have led to his indictment in Chicago as the leader of an international titanium-mining racket. Under Mueller, the FBI devoted tremendous resources to capturing Mogilevich, or at least, limiting his sphere of influence. The FBI permanently stationed agents in Budapest in 2005, which had been Mogilevich’s base of operations, and sent him scurrying off to Moscow. The FBI also targeted Mogilevich with a “threat fusion cell” staffed with FBI agents and officials from the National Security Agency. Reached for comment by Rolling Stone, the FBI declined to discuss the cell, acknowledging that an investigation is ongoing. your social media marketing partner


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-3 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-08-30 13:08
"The case against Firtash “seeks to protect this country, its commerce and its citizens from the corrupting influence and withering effects of international organized crime,” prosecutors wrote last year."

I wonder just what the "withering effects of international organized crime are"? Don't we have enough organized crime on Wall Streets and at the Pentagon to wither the nation to death. Why isn't this prosecutor protecting the nation from those organized criminals.

I think it is just bullshit that the FBI has an office in Ukraine in order to do there what it does here -- that is, protect the selected criminals and prosecute those not selected by the American oligarchs. The FBI has been working with the Nazis and the Poroschenko government for many years.
+2 # economagic 2018-08-30 21:13
"Why isn't this prosecutor protecting the nation from those organized criminals." [?]

Because like most nations, ours has people without as well as within that would do us harm as collateral damage to their unlawful and immoral manipulations.

Jeez, Rodeo, this ain't rocket science, much less high-level political intrigue (as in the "Spy vs Spy" cartoon, a forerunner of "Road Runner" and maybe even "Tom and Jerry").
+3 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-09-01 08:23
It was sort of a rhetorical question only. I know the answer. The FBI is working on behalf of American oligarchs to make the world "safe" for US capital investment.

I prefer the "spy vs. spy."
+2 # ericlipps 2018-08-30 22:07
So let me see now, RR: You don't worry about international criminals who are connected with Donald Trump; for them, it's "pay no attention to that thug behind the Donald."
+2 # Benign Observer 2018-08-31 16:09
If we're going to go after international criminals, does that mean we also go after the Bushes, Clintons, the Podestas, and all the other parasites in WDC?

Donald Trump is a two-bit conman who has declared bankruptcy at least five times. That's why he had to get loans from Russians. Everybody has known that for years. He is small potatoes.

But what about Nancy Pelosi, who's trebled her worth since first being elected to Congress. How does that happen honestly? Same with Paul Ryan.

As usual, the scandal isn't what was criminal but what's LEGAL, all the ways our so-called representatives rip us off day after day. Hell it's pretty scandalous they even get a paycheck considering they do NOTHING to help America or Americans.

When's the last time America won a war? But we pay out more than the next ten countries combined.

When's the last time we solved a big problem? It seems more like Congress and the political class specialize in slowdowns and inaction, for political reasons, than solving anything.

Why do we pay twice as much for worse health outcomes?

Why are our elections STILL majorly fucked up -- after 20 years?

What about the revolving door between government and lobbyists?

What about the corporate press, that acts more to propagandize than inform or watchdog?

If we are going to go after corruption, let's really go after it -- because what bugs me is the SELECTIVE outrage. Trump is not alone. Let's oust them ALL.
+2 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-09-01 08:37
I don't know if you know the book, "Three Felonies A Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent Paperback." Here's a brief blurb from Amazon -

"The average professional in this country wakes up in the morning, goes to work, comes home, eats dinner, and then goes to sleep, unaware that he or she has likely committed several federal crimes that day. Why? The answer lies in the very nature of modern federal criminal laws, which have exploded in number but also become impossibly broad and vague. "

Silverstein says that all corporate exec. commit crimes every day. The FBI and DOJ could criminally prosecute any of them if they wished, just as they ginned up irrelevant charges against Manafort that will send him to prison for life. But they don't do this against the people who are causing the greatest damage to the lives of Americans.

Wells Fargo defrauds millions of its own customers. It gets a tiny fine and the year's long criminal conspiracy goes away. OK, one president resigned but he got a $30 million severance deal.

The FBI and DOJ are obsessively SELECTIVE in whom they go after. They target the opponents of the ruling elites. The FBI now considers itself a global police force. It is right here on its webstie --

This is the heart of international corruption. The FBI is a political police. It goes after the enemies of American corporatist politicians. That's fascism.
+2 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-09-01 08:26
They are not connected to Trump but they are connected to Hillary and Obama, who put the US regime in charge of Ukranian politics via their Nazi proxies. The real association of the people named above are to Hillary Clinton, as the article makes clear.

But you are right. I think the FBI should stay home and worry about organized crime here. There's enough of it here.
+3 # Trumpistheswamp 2018-08-30 23:22
I hate the use of the word "optics" to mean appearance. Optics means the glass or plastic lenses used in optical devices such as eyeglasses, microscopes and binoculars, it does not mean "appearances".
0 # economagic 2018-09-01 06:57
Newspeak--with the same effect and ultimately for the same purpose.
+6 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-08-31 07:09
On RSN now, there's another article that points out --

Staggering Number of Americans Can't Meet Basic Needs While Trump Brags About the Economy
By Libby Watson, Splinter News
29 August 18

A new study by the Urban Institute published Tuesday found that 40 percent of Americans can’t meet at least one basic need—food, healthcare, housing, or utilities—even as the economy approaches nearly full employment with only a 4.4 percent unemployment rate.

This is clearly a "withering effect" of the American oligarchs on the American people. Why is the FBI not investigating why 90% of Americans have seen their purchasing power stagnant since the 1970s while the wealth of the top 5% has increased dramatically and productivity has also increased dramatically. Is this not a withering effect of organized crime?

We face the same hypocrisy with terrorism. The people identified by the US government as "terrorists" like al Qaeda have killed or injured very few Americans when compared to companies like Monsanto, cigarette makers, water polluters, home mortgage fraudsters, and many more. The USG has spent trillions of dollars fighting al Qaeda, but nothing to protect Americans from domestic terrorists who put lead and copper in the water.

It is time for agencies like the FBI to be re-organized from the top to the bottom. If it cannot identify the real enemies of the American people, it should be shut down. Same for CIA, Homeland Security, and all the rest.
+5 # Anne Frank 2018-08-31 16:15
Capitalism is organized crime.
+2 # Benign Observer 2018-08-31 09:23
There's a bigger story unfolding involving Lanny Davis.

CNN reporter Jim Sciutto reported that anonymous sources said Michael Cohen was in the room when DT Jr told Trump about the Trump Tower meeting and was going to testify to Mueller about it. Sciutto said Davis, Michael Cohen's lawyer, declined to comment. But then Davis went on Buzzfeed and said he was CNN's anonymous source.

When this came out WaPo and NYT retracted the story -- but CNN won't because they'd have to admit they lied -- and no one is calling them on this scandalous 'journalism' because they agree with the politics of it -- that it's being done to bring down Trump, so it's okay.

This kind of crap strengthens Donald Trump. We watch the msm and the DNC completely bungle the response to Trump. They are going to get him re-elected but they won't cede power or influence to progressive or alternative news outlets because power is so rarely given up without a struggle.

Journalism is dead, and CNN helped kill it.

"Now let's get back to Russia."
+3 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-09-01 08:38
AF -- yes, indeed. And the FBI was created to protect it and to attack the enemies of this organized crime.
+4 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-09-01 08:46
I saw this on Jimmy Dore. It is pretty amazing. There have been hundreds of these false reports (fake news, as the term goes) in the major media about the Trump Russia conspiracy. Probably all of them originate in the Mueller Probe and its connections inside the CIA and FBI. The media just retails them as it always does. They get a scoop from someone inside the FBI, DOJ, CIA, or Muller Probe and they report it.

This time CNN got caught. It does not know what to do now.

To me, more important is the black out on Nellie Ohr -- the CIA Russia expert who was "detailed" to Fusion GPS to work on the Steele Dossier. More and more, it is becoming clear that the Dossier was not even a Clinton campaign document. The campaign was brought in as cover. It was rather a CIA/MI6 covert op to get blackmail control over Trump. It blew up in their faces.

It is now 100% certain that Bruce Ohr was the conduit between Steele and Mueller. The two could not work directly together for reasons of appearances. But they were working together via Ohr -- a seeming safe outsider in the DOJ. Rosenstein enen said under oath he hardly knew who Ohr was -- even though their offices at the DOJ are next to each other.

The lies coming out of the CIA/FBI/MI6/DOJ /Mueller/major media are moving closer and closer to critical mass. Things will explode soon. As you say, CNN cannot sustain its lies much longer. Same for the Wapo. The end is near.